SCUBA TRAIN­ING AND SAFETY

SAIL - - Experience Under Sail -

Al­though there are few ex­pe­ri­ences as peace­ful as glid­ing weight­less through the wa­ter in full scuba gear, the grace and beauty of the sport be­lie the fact that div­ing has in­her­ent risks.

For­tu­nately, these are well un­der­stood and with proper train­ing, there is lit­tle dan­ger, so long as you fol­low the proper pro­to­cols and en­sure be­fore­hand that you are in ad­e­quate phys­i­cal con­di­tion to take part in scuba div­ing in the first place. In­deed, chil­dren as young as 10 reg­u­larly re­ceive scuba train­ing.

In terms of train­ing, thou­sands of dif­fer­ent cer­ti­fied dive cen­ters can be found through­out the world.Ty­ing many of these cen­ters to­gether is PADI (padi.com), with re­gional head­quar­ters in Ran­cho Santa Mar­garita, Cal­i­for­nia; Sydney, Aus­tralia and Bris­tol, Eng­land. Since its found­ing in 1966, PADI has cre­ated stan­dards and train­ing pro­to­cols cov­er­ing ev­ery­thing from ba­sic open-wa­ter scuba div­ing to res­cue div­ing, night div­ing and un­der­wa­ter videog­ra­phy. It has also es­tab­lished a cer­ti­fi­ca­tion pro­gram for in­struc­tors, in­struc­tor train­ers and dive cen­ters and re­sorts, de­signed to guar­an­tee that all divers will re­ceive com­plete and com­pe­tent train­ing no mat­ter where in the world they go.

In terms of costs, get­ting cer­ti­fied for en­try-level, “Open Wa­ter Diver,” as it’s called can range any­where from $350 to $800 de­pend­ing on lo­ca­tion and whether or not you need to rent equip­ment or will be bring­ing your own. As for the train­ing it­self, it con­sists of three dis­tinct stages: 1) learn­ing the prin­ci­ples of scuba div­ing and dive safety on shore, 2) con­fined wa­ter dives, in which you are in­tro­duced to the gear it­self in a quiet body of wa­ter or swim­ming pool, 3) four “open wa­ter” dives, typ­i­cally made over the course of two days, in which you put your skills to the test.

Other scuba train­ing or­ga­ni­za­tions in­clude the Na­tional Association of Un­der­wa­ter In­struc­tors (NAUI—naui.org) based in Riverview, Florida, and Scuba Schools In­ter­na­tional (SSI— di­vessi.com) based in Boca Ra­ton, Florida.

With re­spect to safety, while the chances of in­jury in scuba div­ing are very small, a wellestab­lished dive safety and treat­ment in­fras­truc­ture has also been put in place, both in the United States and abroad, to en­sure that in the event a diver is in­jured, he or she can quickly ac­cess the nec­es­sary med­i­cal as­sis­tance.

Be­yond that, as a scuba diver it is also a good idea to be­come a part of the Divers Alert Net­work, or DAN (di­ver­salert­net­work.org), a mem­ber­ship-based not-for­profit that does ev­ery­thing from re­search dive-safety is­sues to cer­tify dive-safety in­struc­tors and pro­vide evac­u­a­tion in­sur­ance to en­sure that if worse comes to worse, you’re cov­ered.

DAN also pro­vides sup­port ser­vices to divers in emer­gency sit­u­a­tions via a 24-hour med­i­cal hot­line that can be ac­cessed from any­where in the world to help with ev­ery­thing from med­i­cal re­fer­rals to fig­ur­ing out the lo­gis­tics of an evac­u­a­tion.

In fact, so suc­cess­ful has DAN been in car­ing for divers that it has also cre­ated a sub­set called DAN Boater (dan­boater.org), which pro­vides the same 24-hour hot­line med­i­cal evac­u­a­tion and med­i­cals repa­tri­a­tion ser­vices to non-divers, both at sea and on

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